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Experts urge divorcing spouses to remember money matters

Once the divorce papers are filed and the initial shock wears off, a spouse will soon be called upon to start considering a multitude of legal issues from child custody and child support to alimony and, of course, property division.

This is actually somewhat unfortunate when you stop to consider just how important these divorce-related issues really are and how most people are not exactly in the best frame of mind in the weeks or months following a formal split.

"At a time when you are compromised in terms of rational thought and emotional well-being, you're asked to make life-changing decisions that affect not only you but potentially your children as well -- for the rest of their lives," remarked one Texas-based attorney of the divorce process.

While people dealing with the aftermath of a divorce can seek comfort from friends, family members and mental health professionals, they will still need to ensure that they stay focused on the road ahead when it comes to their divorce -- especially as it pertains to the division of assets. 

The unfortunate reality is that many divorcing spouses simply think that because Texas is a community property state, all accounts and other assets will simply be spilt 50-50. The reality, however, is that property division is often far more complicated than that for everyone, regardless of their economic status.

In light of this reality, here are a few financial considerations compiled by experts for spouses to take into consideration during the divorce process:

  • While Texas family courts award alimony somewhat rarely, they often compensate for this by awarding the lower-earning spouse a larger percentage of the martial assets. However, lower-earning spouses might want to consider speaking with their legal representation about possibly securing a larger share of liquid assets during negotiations as opposed to non-liquid assets (retirement accounts, real estate, etc.) as this will serve to enhance their now lower monthly income.
  • Financial documents will play an important role in the divorce, as such it's important for spouses to make copies of as many documents as possible as soon as possible.
  • If a couple shares bank accounts, lower-earning spouses should consider moving one-half of the savings into an account in a different bank held in their name only to ensure that they will have the necessary funds to pay for their legal expenses.
  • Spouses should consider investing time into learning as much as possible about their finances, as it will give them confidence and peace of mind during divorce negotiations.   

Above all else, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your rights and options as they pertain to property division and other divorce-related topics.

Source: The Houston Chronicle, "How to have a 'good' divorce," Alyson Ward, May 13, 2014

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